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Rethink for Chelmsford’s 3foot and Fling festivals

Large field on sunny day filled with tents, hay bales and families wandering around

Chelmsford City Council has announced a rethink for the popular 3foot People and Fling festivals, following the launch of the district’s new Cultural Strategy and rising costs in the events industry. They will be paused for 2023 but will be a series of free events, activities and performances in the newly pedestrianised Tindal Square instead.

Aligning festivals with Chelmsford’s Cultural Strategy

As Chelmsford looks towards its next phase as a culturally ambitious city, a review of 3foot and Fling will ensure future festivals and events align with the strategy, which seeks to celebrate our diverse communities and strengthen opportunities to showcase and develop local talent.

This means that the 3foot and Fling festivals won’t be back in 2023. In March, teaser events were held for the first time in Central Park, with the full festivals due to make a comeback in July 2023. However, a decision has now been taken not to go ahead with the main festivals this year due to a significantly changed events landscape.

Though the March teasers sold out, they revealed a dramatically transformed festival and events industry. Evaluations undertaken over the last few months have shown a volatile market for UK festivals this year. Increased costs due to rising inflation have led to many events facing unsustainable losses in 2023.

Cllr Marie Goldman says it’s crucial that Chelmsford’s festivals are financially sustainable, while also remaining accessible to communities across Chelmsford:

"In this challenging economic climate, the events industry has been hit particularly hard. Though we could have gone ahead with 3foot and Fling this year with increased ticket prices, in doing so we would be alienating many who are also struggling in these difficult times. We want Chelmsford’s festivals to be affordable and accessible for everyone while ensuring they’re financially sustainable events."

Cllr Marie Goldman

Free activities and events to be held in Tindal Square this summer

Over the coming months, a further review of 3foot People Festival will be carried out, with the hope of seeing it return to the city in 2024. Further evaluation of the viability of Fling Festival will also be undertaken with a local working group to determine its next steps.

In the meantime, Chelmsford City Council will soon be launching a programme of free activities and performances taking place in Tindal Square this summer. The events will offer something for all audiences, including exciting activities for little ones inspired by 3foot People Festival.

According to Cllr Goldman, the difficult decision not to run 3foot and Fling in 2023 provides a chance to realign Chelmsford’s festivals with the new Cultural Strategy:

"We were so keen to see the return of 3foot and Fling this July after such a long break due to the pandemic. Chelmsford’s festivals are a major part of the city’s cultural identity, and we know that many fans will be disappointed by this decision.

However, with a new Cultural Strategy that highlights outstanding festivals and events as a key theme, a wider review of 3foot and Fling is the right next step for our city. We want to ensure Chelmsford delivers a unified and coherent programme of festivals that embraces our varied communities and offers innovative and exciting experiences for our festivalgoers. That’s why we’re taking this time to rethink and reshape these cultural events.

And in the meantime, during these tough economic times, we’re helping audiences to access and connect with culture through a series of free events at Tindal Square this summer, in a celebration of the city’s new public space in the centre of Chelmsford."

Cllr Marie Goldman

Further information on the activities and events being held in Tindal Square will follow soon. To keep up to date with news, sign up to Chelmsford Theatre’s mailing list.

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Cherelle Nightingill
Cherelle Nightingill

Cherelle writes about Chelmsford Theatre, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford Museum, the Mayor of Chelmsford and culture and events in the city.